31 March 2011

Living on Low Wages

McDonald's workers in Singapore will get more pay from this April.

The wages of its 6,000 rank-and-file workers will increase by an average of 20 per cent as a result of improved productivity.  The monthly wages of full-time employees will increase from $900 to $1,100, and those of team leaders will increase from $1,100 to $1,240.

McDonald's made the announcement as NTUC Secretary-General Lim Swee Say, NTUC President John de Payva, NTUC Assistant Secretary-General Ong Ye Kung, Employment and Employability Institute CEO Ang Kin Hee and other top unionists toured of one of its restaurants.  Mr Lim is also Minister in the Prime Minister's Office.

As at June 2010, the median gross monthly income from full-time work of residents aged 15 years and older was $2,710.

As may be seen from the table and chart below, slightly more than one in three employed residents aged 15 years and older earned less than $2,000 in gross monthly income from full-time work as at June 2010.

What is it like to live on less than $1,000 per month?  Or, even $1,500 per month?  It must be exceedingly difficult.

The challenge for NTUC and the Government is to raise the wages of those at the lower end of the wage spectrum and/or help them upgrade to better paying jobs.


1.  "Upsize for McDonald's Pay as Fast Food Gets Faster" The Straits Times (26 Mar 2011).

2.  Report on Labour Force in Singapore, 2010.

3.  Full-time employment refers to employment in which the normal hours of work are 35 hours in a week.

4.  Residents are citizens or permanent residents.

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